October 27, 2014

No need for clever titles! A look at Tenchi Muyo: Part 1

So...Tenchi Muyo...anyone remember Tenchi Muyo?  I do.  And that is because Tenchi Muyo is fucking awesome. 

Anyway, up until the last couple of weeks I hadn't actually watched Tenchi since back in High School when it was on the Toonami roster so what...twelve/thirteen years ago?  Well, I had watched the movies more recently than that but it has probably been at least five or six years since the last time I had seen them.  Also, I had never seen the completion of the OVAs.  Which...yeah, after having seen OVA 3...okay, not really missing anything there.  Still, either I had forgotten how much I loved Tenchi in the past or, more likely, I simply like it more than I did before.  Whether that is because something about it speaks to me more now that I'm older or simply nostalgia I can't say for sure, although I think it is likely a combination of both. 

I'm just kind of rambling here because I'm not quite sure where to begin,  But I guess, I'll go ahead and return to my old three tier grading scheme and take it from there.  Various spoilers of various severity in the reviews.

Tenchi Muyo! OVA series:  Pretty near the middle of the Middle tier. 
The positives:
-The first two OVA series are just as much fun as I remember.
-The OVAs have the best Ryoko--at least backstory wise.  I like her being a creation of Washu's, then controlled by Kagato until Yosho is forced to hunt her down and imprison her.  I also like this backstory for her because her watching Tenchi grow-up gives her an excellent and immediate emotional connection to Tenchi so she has a believable reason for wanting a relationship with him.  Now, I'm an unabashed Ryoko fanboy so having the best backstory for that character is no minor thing for my opinion on the show. 
-The battle with Katago.  Basically from the moment Katago shows up to the moment he was defeated was greatness.  Washu gets a great introduction.  Ryoko and Ayeka get to work together, and you get to see them protecting each other.  Tenchi revealing his real power and cutting the ship in half during the fight is just hilarious. 

The negatives:
-The characters ages.  If Sasami is actually 700 years old why the hell does she still look like a kid?   Just...everyone is too old. Like the whole thing is jarring.  I mean, most of it was acceptable up until...
-OVA 3.  OVA 3 introduces just way too much that didn't work for me.  Nobuyuki being way older than is really reasonable.  Tenchi having an older sister than no one bothered to even mention even after Tenchi became aware of all of the aliens and other oddities.  In addition to the new information adding some oddities to the timelines and character motivations and such.  The power levels of half of the cast ramp up past the level where I can really enjoy things.  I can buy Tsunami being an extra-dimensional entity/goddess since she was the origin of the Jurian trees.  But Washu?  And Tenchi being even more powerful still?  Ugh... Just no. 

Tenchi Muyo! TV series: Upper Middle Tier
The Positives:
-Universe tones down the characters' power levels to a reasonable level.  Ryoko and Ayeka are powerful, but they're not going to be single-handedly wrecking planets.  There are no gods and universes created by the main cast.  So that's all good.  Also, characters are more reasonably aged with only Washu being ridiculously old and her having spent much of that time in stasis. 
-Kiyone.  Kiyone is an excellent addition to the cast.  She is competent, attractive, intelligent, and level headed without any need of supernatural powers or super science.  She friends with the cast, but has no obvious desire for Tenchi.  Which...speaking of:
-Universe is far less of a harem comedy and basically just a love triangle with only Ayeka and Ryoko truly interested in this continuity.  This is probably a personal thing, but I have little enough need for harem comedies as a whole.  I make an exception for Tenchi just because of my particular fondness for it, and well, we already had Tenchi, one of the best examples of the genre, did any others really need to exist? 
-Tenchi.  Tenchi himself has more character in this continuity.  Tenchi in either continuity is a fine harem comedy lead.  Basically, he isn't too strong a personality so he doesn't stand in the way of the girls who are the main draw. He is nice enough and accommodating to the girls without being a complete push over.  He's powerful and competent enough to not be a hindrance when it does come time for action.  But in Universe he is slightly more willing to let his opinions be known.  I think it works for him. 

The negatives:
-A couple of episodes have characters acting completely out of character.  One example in particular I'll make is "No need for Hunger!" which for no reason has Ryoko completely forget about Tenchi for almost the entirety of the episode just so the rest of the cast can be left to suffer while she messes around and enjoys herself for a rather poor joke.  Yeah...
-Mihoshi.  Mihoshi screws things up.  I hope you're ready for that one joke repeated for 26 episodes.  I'm not a Mihoshi fan.  Even in the OVAs I am not a Mihoshi fan.  But at least in the OVAs at least occasionally she manages to screw up in such a way that it is ultimately beneficial.  In Universe on the other hand, the best she manages is to slightly mitigate a couple of the disasters she causes.  Kiyone is a freaking saint. 
-Why did Ryoko and Ayeka instantly latch on to Tenchi in this continuity?  In the OVAs it made sense.  Ryoko had watched Tenchi as a child and so she already in many ways knew who he was as a person and how nice a guy he was.  And Ayeka saw similarities between him and Yosho, who she loved, almost from the beginning.  It made sense in that continuity.  Here?  They kinda just do because that is what they do.  I don't think it ultimately hurts the story, because there is ample reason for them to grow to think he's a good guy over time.  And you can make the argument that they were initially just having fun/relaxing and Tenchi isn't the initial reason they stayed, but I don't know if that is what is necessarily shown on screen, at least as far as Ayeka is concerned.  Ryoko mostly just flirts with Tenchi for the first several episodes and you don't see signs that it is more than that until later. 

So now the question is, if these are both just two middle tier shows why did I rave about them so much at the beginning?  Well, that's why this is part 1. 

Posted by: Arson55 at 05:36 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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